Cycling is becoming increasingly popular in most American cities including Baltimore. Although more people are getting about the city on two wheels, the hazards of cycling are as real as ever. One of these risks includes drivers and passengers of cars suddenly opening their doors into oncoming traffic. The question can you sue if you get “doored” while riding a bike in Baltimore depends on the conduct of the bicyclist.
Although bicyclists are most vulnerable to car doors being suddenly opened, motorcyclists are also at risk for dooring. At the Law Offices of Randolph Rice, we represent cyclists and bikers who end up injured in dooring accidents. Baltimore bike accident attorney Randolph Rice highlights dooring crashes in Baltimore.
The Dangers of Biking in Baltimore
While many U.S. cities have invested in new cycling lanes, and multi-use trails, critics recently accused Baltimore city leaders of dragging their heels in making improvements. It means many cyclists have to take their chances on the hectic streets with fast-moving traffic.
The Greater Greater Washington news website described the state of cycling in Baltimore as “bleak” in 2018. It claimed Baltimore’s relationship with cycling has been deteriorating since 2006.
Work started on the Roland Avenue bikeway and the Maryland Avenue bikeway was installed. The city also put forward plans for a Potomac Avenue bikeway. Baltimore worked with the Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts to reopen Loch Raven to mountain biking.
However, much work ended in 2016 amid a backlash against cycling-friendly projects. Greater Greater Washington claimed many new bikeway projects were put on hold. When cyclists have to ride past parked cars and trucks, they face the threat of dooring accidents.
What Does It Mean to Get “Doored” as a Cyclist?
Dooring accidents occur when the occupant of a car or a truck throws open a door and it hits a passing cyclist or causes the rider to swerve and fall off or get involved in a wreck. Research on dooring accidents is scant but data suggests they are more prevalent than many people believe.
A study from the City of Chicago from 2010-2012 found dooring crashes made up between 7.3 and 19.7 percent of reported bicycle crashes.
The Boston Cyclist Safety Report of 2013 suggested between 7 and 13 percent of all bicycle collisions in the City of Boston between 2009 and 2012 involved a rider getting “doored.” A study in Australia found vehicle doors accounted for almost a fifth of crashes involving bicyclists and drivers.
Cyclists can also help avoid dooring accidents by keeping the distance from parked cars. Aim to put 3 to 5 feet between your bike or motorcycle and parked cars. It’s not always possible to keep away from stationary vehicles, particularly on narrow streets. In the era of Uber and Lyft, more passengers are suddenly and unexpectedly getting out of cars on city highways. Cyclists can drive defensively by looking at the traffic ahead and anticipating occupants getting out of cars. If you see a car has that has just stopped, or the vehicle has its hazard lights on, chances are a door will be opening momentarily. Always wear a cycling helmet if you are on two wheels in Baltimore.
What You Should Do If You Get Doored While Riding a Bike in Baltimore
If you are doored on a busy street, a Baltimore personal injury lawyer can help. If you suffered injuries after the crash, you should:
- Try to get yourself and your bike out of the road as soon as possible to avoid being struck by other traffic.
- Call 911 if you suffered an injury from a car door.
- Take pictures of the accident scene including the car that caused the wreck;
- Get the name and contact information for any witnesses. Make sure they remain at the scene until the police arrive if possible.
- Ask for the contact details of a driver or a passenger who hit you. Get their driver’s license and insurance card details. Write down the name, address, and date of birth of the driver.
- Ask the police to make an official incident report. Get the name and ID of the reporting officer and ask how you can obtain details of the incident report.
- Ask if the officer can cite the motorist who hit you for dooring.
Although many people who are not avid cyclists are not aware of the dangers of “getting doored” while riding a bike in Baltimore, it’s a real problem. You may be able to sue the occupant of a car who caused a dooring incident.
Is Dooring an Offense in Baltimore?
Maryland law §21-1105 states a person may not open to door of a motor vehicle on the side of moving traffic unless:
1 It is reasonably safe to do so; and
2 It can be done without interfering with the movement of any other traffic.
A door should not be opened on any side of a vehicle exposed to moving “for any period longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.”
If you are riding on the streets of Baltimore and a motorist throws open a door, hitting you or causing you to swerve and crash, you may have grounds to sue the motorist even if he or she was not cited for a dooring offense.
In some cases, a bicyclist who swerves to avoid a car door, causes another vehicle to crash or a pedestrian ends up injured. The person who carelessly opens a door can be held responsible for multiple injuries or deaths.
When You Might Not Be Able to Sue After Being “Doored” While Riding a Bike in Baltimore
Maryland’s law of contributory negligence may bar some cyclists for making a claim for dooring. If you are riding unnecessarily close to a car door or are distracted by your phone or weaving in and out of traffic, the insurance company of the motorists who hit you can claim you contributed to your accident and injuries. Cyclists riding at night without lights, against the traffic or under the influence of alcohol and drugs, are unlikely to be successful in a claim if they get doored in Baltimore.
Talk to Our Baltimore Bike Accident Lawyer Today
If you were injured in a bike accident, you should consult a Baltimore cycling accident lawyer. At the Law Offices of Randolph Rice, we have represented many injured bicyclists. Cycling lawsuits are not always easy to litigate. Insurance companies try to find ways that cyclists might be responsible for dooring injuries in Baltimore. Our attorney is aware of the importance of cycling in Maryland and the rights of people on two wheels. Many drivers fail to respect cyclists and don’t give them enough space. Please call the Law Offices of Randolph Rice today for a free consultation for your cycling accident injury at (410) 431-0911.